February 1, 2011
Trojans repeat as champions
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Central’s Katie Sinclair helped the Trojans wrap up an OHSL Freedom Division title Monday night by beating Phoenix.
It was a night to honor five seniors and to celebrate another successful volleyball season at Homer Central.
Pre-game ceremonies recognized Trojans seniors Havyn Bush, Karley Brown, Katelyn Buchanan and twin sisters Alysha and Katie Camp. After parents, players and coach Brian Fox posed for pictures, the underclassmen joined three of the seniors and disposed of visiting Phoenix in straight sets to claim a second straight OHSL Freedom Division title.
The Trojans posted winning scores of 25-17, 25-15, 26-24 to improve to 12-0 in the division and 15-1 overall.
With both Camps out of action, sophomore middle hitter Lauren Smith, junior middle hitter Katie Sinclair, plus outside hitters Buchanan and junior Jessica Mitchell helped carry the load for the Trojans. Alysha Camp has been cleared by her doctor to return to action and the goal is Thursday’s match at East Syracuse-Minoa. Katie Camp was sidelined after she cut her hand at home over the weekend, but the wound reopened during warm-ups and forced her to the bench.
Smith had eight kills, five digs, three aces and numerous long-serving stretches. Buchanan found serving success to go with five kills and four digs; Sinclair totaled seven digs, five kills and two blocks with Mitchell delivering four kills and four digs.
“It was different playing the back row,” Smith said after playing her best match of the season. “It was fun, I learned a lot, but we miss the Camps.”
“This team is so tight and everyone has been working so hard,” Sinclair said. “We have great players on the bench who can come in when the Camps are out and do their job. Everyone has grown so much and knows their positions. Everyone has contributed to what we have accomplished.”
“It was a weird Senior Night,” Coach Fox said. “Katie Camp cut her hand trying to cut an avocado. It opened up during warm-ups. Without her and Alysha, we had just the three seniors and the underclassmen really stepped up. Everyone got in and showed they were ready to play.
“Lauren served much better in the game than she has done in practice,” he added. “She had some great runs and great serves. Jess has stepped in nicely. We told her to be herself, she doesn’t have to be like Alysha, and she has believed in herself. All the girls have learned to believe in each other.”
PHOENIX OPENED the first set with the serve, but Homer got the first point on a long hit that went out. Buchanan got the serve and the Trojan led was 5-1 when Marissa Turner got a block for the Firebirds (5-13 overall).
After another Phoenix mistake gave the serve right back to Homer. Smith served five straight points as the lead grew to 11-1 before Phoenix regained the ball. The Trojans maintained control, though the Firebirds did trim the deficit to five points. Smith served up four more points, including a couple of aces, as the Trojans went from 19-14 to 23-14 before surrendering the serve. Set point came when Sinclair had a successful point-block to make the final score 25-17.
The second set saw Homer take an early 3-1 lead, but Phoenix got on a roll with Turner serving as the Firebirds jumped out to a 7-3 advantage. Trailing 7-4, Smith served up an ace to trigger another run. Three kills by Sinclair, Firebird mistakes and pinpoint serves by Smith saw the Trojans build a 15-7 advantage.
When you get on serving runs like this, what does it feel like to the server?
“It feels amazing,” Smith replied. “You just keep going. You get aggressive. You just keep making good serves and hope it continues.”
This set found Sinclair then putting the Trojans in the final winning position with her own serving run of four points as Homer built a 22-10 cushion. Brown drove one ball through an attempted Phoenix block and Smith had a point-block during the run. Phoenix closed to 23-14 before the final three points came off opponents’ mistake to make the final score 25-15.
The final set was the most entertaining. There were only two lead changes, but there were also seven ties, including knot-ups at 22-22, 23-23 and 24-24 before the Trojans put the set and match away.
With Homer holding a slim 13-10 lead, Brown got on a serving roll. Buchanan pounded two winning hits down the sideline during a run that saw the Trojans advantage grow to 17-10.
Phoenix would not give up, fighting back from a 14-21 deficit. Angela Piper got the Firebird serve with her team down 17-22 and promptly served up an ace. As the Trojan lead shrunk to 22-20, Fox called a timeout, but the Firebirds kept coming, tying the set at 22-22 before Piper sent a serve wide giving the control back to Homer with a 23-22 lead. The teams traded points to 24-24. A little dink shot over the Phoenix defense by Smith got the Trojans the serve at 25-24. Buchanan put her serve in play and Smith closed out the match with a kill and the celebration began.
HOW DOES IT feel to become two-time Freedom Division champions?
“We have a great team this year,” Smith said. “We all want to help when each other. I couldn’t be happier.”
“This is a very balanced team,” Sinclair added. “It’s not just one player, it is everyone contributing to a successful season. This success does carry over to the softball season and we’ve been successful there as well.””
In addition to those mentioned earlier, Taryn Heath recorded 19 assists and one ace for Homer. Hayvn Bush added five digs and Lianna Reed added three digs.
Bryonna Whitney led Phoenix with seven digs and five assists. Aylonna Whitney added six digs, Paige Recore had five kills and three aces, Clarissa Lyboult five digs and Sarah Kelly three digs.
Homer will return to OHSL Freedom Division action Thursday.
“I’m so excited,” Alysha Camp said. “I’m ready to finish out the season strong. It’s hard not having control over what is happening, but the team has stepped up. They have been working well as a family and everyone has done their job.”
“One year ago, it came right down to the last match,” Fox recalled. “Now, here we are, we have two games left and we have already clinched our second title in a row. It comes from the girls following the system and everyone doing their roles well. If you don’t have those role players, it’s tough to be successful.”
The Trojans travel to East Syracuse-Minoa with JV action at 5 p.m. before returning home for the regular season finale against Chittenango. The Saturday action begins at 11 a.m. with the JV match.
HOMER JVS improved to 11-5 on the season with an easy 25-10, 25-14, 25-20 swept of Phoenix to open the evening.
Sara Yonta led the way with 12 assists, three digs and one ace. Emily Cottrell added nine digs and three aces. Hannah McEvoy chipped in with six digs, two aces, one kill and one assist while Brooke Ryan had four digs, four aces and one kill.
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